Holden “We’re Here” Ad Shows Just How Much GM Doesn’t Get It Sometimes.

[dropcap]So[/dropcap] you’ve just announced that you’re going to bring an Australian institution to an end. You are THE Australian motoring icon and you’re going to stop manufacturing here and become an importer like (almost) everyone else.

What do you do next?

a) Lay low for Christmas and let the next few years take their course, promoting your range of vehicles as normal as you wind down to being a full importer in 4 years from now?


b) Do a TV ad where you rub the closure in and galvanise the ill-feeling towards your 90% mediocre vehicle range?

Guess what GM-Holden did.


That ad campaign has been shown ad nauseum over the last week or so – It was on every 10 or 15 minutes yesterday during the biggest cricket match of the year – and it’s drawn over 1000 or so angry comments on Facebook and elsewhere.

Customers and employees alike don’t accept the “We’re here” line because Holden announced a few weeks ago that they will cease manufacturing in Australia, in 2017.

Customers will be reluctant to accept the whole “we’ll still make the best cars for Australia” line because the cars that GM have shipped to Australia and slapped Holden badges on in the recent past have been absolute crap. Holden’s last best-seller that wasn’t called Commodore was the Astra, which they canned in favour of cheaper cars from Korea and then tried to resurrect by bringing Opel into Australia – a campaign that lasted less than 12 months.

I think GM’s marketing people may have mis-judged (surprise, surprise) the connection between Holden and the Australian public. Many Australians aren’t particularly enamoured with Holden’s product but they have a soft spot for the company based purely on historic association and its identity as an ‘Australian’ company. Nearly everyone has owned a Holden at some stage or has a family member or close friend who has. Most still have an in-built fondness, however residual or historic in nature.

To try and trade on that when you’re axing the one good car you still make for us, however, is Manipulation 101 and people can see through it.

Holden won’t be Australian when it leaves and everyone knows it. It’s barely Australian now and most of the company’s Korean-built range has been canned by one publication or another in the last 5 years. The Viva was a disaster and the Epica was such an epic(a) fail that it lasted only a few years.

Soon, Holden will be just another car brand. In 2017 it’s going to sever the one final connection that made it different from everyone else – its Australian manufacturing base.

As one commenter said:

“It’s like the ‘I still want to be friends’ line after a break up”

Well, no.

Holden just cut us off from the one true redeeming quality it had: It was one of us and we could relate to it. Holden has been drifting for a decade or so and now, it’s going for good.

Time to survive on your merits, Holden.

Time to earn some merits, actually. Judging by the way this ad campaign was rolled out, it’s going to be a long road.


A final note:

If you’re going to shoot an ad that has the potential to really annoy people, at least try to avoid using REALLY CRAP PARKING!!!!!



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  1. Fantastic!

    Also every dickhead who has ever stuck a Chevy bowtie on their Commodore should be really proud right now : )

    1. I doubt many of them know much about the types of cars Chevy has rolled out in the last five years. Like everything else GM, it’s smoke, mirrors and faded glory.

  2. Ah yes, reminds me of a conversation I overheard recently. Big man ‘A’ telling small man ‘B’ about his recent shopping expedition for a Four Wheel Drive. ‘A’ says he looked at BMW (X3 or X5?) but decided to buy ‘Australian’ instead. So ‘A’ bought a Holden Captiva. Great says ‘B’ the gun-toting patriot.

    Dumb on so many levels. Unfortunately for GM the vast majority of buyers are not even nearly that dumb.

    I have an old Daewoo shopping cart in my driveway so I have nothing against the South Korean Chevs. But the Captiva and many of its current stable mates are far from being the best of breed.

    The ads. We’re here, or we’re there. Shit we’re somewhere. Anyway we still love you so buy our cars. The ad agency really needs to have a higher drug budget.

    1. The young bloke at home had a good idea today….

      Someone should film an alternative ad: Guy standing next to a Chevy outside then Ren Center in Detroit – “We’re here”. Guy in boardroom in the same building – “We’re here”. Korean guy standing next to shopping cart Chevy with Holden badge outside factory in Seoul – “We’re here”…… etc.

      Nice idea.

  3. Q: Why are the Ren Cen Christmas carolers the worst in history? A: Because they’re all tone deaf.

    I’m torn here — should I be ranting as you are about the nonsensical nature of GM marketing or should I react as if a ‘dog bites man’ story has appeared in the news? On one hand, it’s so predictable, but on the other hand it’s such a train wreck. Hard to figure.

    (By the way, Dell is the other major advertiser that has been a repeat offender with the ‘lie about the obvious fact and perhaps it will fade’ marketing communications. You see what’s happened to them….)

  4. The Epica fascinates me. We got two versions in Canada, one Chevy, one Suzuki (Verona).
    Someone at GM went to bat for that car and won. Even though it got some of the worse reviews I’ve ever read, sold in minuscule numbers, and damaged the reputation of the host brands (would you go back to the dealership that sold you a Suzuki Verona?).

    Somewhere in the fourth circle of hell at Ren Cen sits a VP who green-lighted new generations, diverted unsold US cars to Eastern Europe, coordinated a big Australian launch -after it had flopped in North America- did everything he/she could to keep this paragon of automotive craptitude alive. Even at GM, it can’t have been easy to turn-in the latest set of dismal sales figures and, straight-faced, ask for another billion to try again somewhere else.

    1. Isn’t this a usual thing for GM to do?

      If a car flopps, try it elseware.

      If it is a hit, rebadge it and try it elseware.

      It is like a gaming and gamble addict, if you loose try to gamble to “get the money back”. If you win, do it again until it doesn’t function any more.

      This is a way to loose and allway will loose. The wins just prolonge the time it takes to get to the same place they have already been to. Bancruptcy.

      1. Hit the send button a bit quick…

        To stop this down going spiral, I think GM need to make good products and be able to make them more apointed to the markets they are on. Not “one car for them all” as they do now.

        The time is out on replacing badge on a car and sell it as a new one.

        Worked before, but not now.

        1. Here’s the fly in that ointment: It’s worked for Ford and it works for Toyota. GM keeps trying because the competition is doing it. The difference is that GM picks some of the worst cars to rebadge. Suzuki? Geo/Isuzu? Deawoo? Why?

          The best rebadging they ever did is now dead: Opel as Saturn. If the currency exchange hadn’t gone all wrong, that would have worked longer than it did.

        2. I don’t think that GM is interested in making a good product. They are a pickup truck company at heart, and they live and die by the US truck market.
          The car business is just an unprofitable sideline for them. The only passenger car they make that have a little bit of effort put into it is the Corvette. Everything else is just a low-cost option.
          Look at Cadillac. They’ve got two models that they inherited from Saab (and thoroughly messed-up the UI) and two 3-Series copies that are low-rent compromise cars. How can they win when they are not even in the game?

          The looming disaster for GM is that their latest pickup generation is lacklustre and has lost market share to Ford and Chrysler (Ram). The market is strong right now, so the execs are still playing their fiddles and cashing-in their bonuses, but it certainly doesn’t look good long term.

          1. I don’t fully agree with you — I think they are interested in making a good product, but they keep trying to make the product better with the same methods as before, just with incremental improvements here and there. Silly.

            The new Impala is a very good car. The Cadillacs are much better than before. The question is this: is a great Chevrolet ever going to beat the competition? I don’t think so, because the way you get a Chevrolet is through compromise and group think. Bold strokes are singular exercises, and GM isn’t good at that.

            There are times when I think that we expect too much from GM. GM is about volume and we want thoughtful design. If they were food, GM products would be in the supermarket and the cars we like would be in the boutique or specialty shop.

            It was that way when GM owned Saab. GM was preoccupied with selling another 50,000 Buicks this month, and had no time for Saab who was selling 30,000 Saabs a YEAR.

    2. Wow, I agree. Note that once Mulally took the reins at Ford that whole “try it again elsewhere” strategy stopped at that company. Ford exited entire segments (minivan, no further revisions for small pickups, Mercury gone, etc.) rather than rehash product. They are healthier for it.

  5. Just spoke today with a mate who has been engineering the Commodore update that was due for next year. A long serving Holden engineer working on engine and driveline improvements but it will never see the light of day. And he reckins he will be out the door by September next year. Not 2017. More PR ‘innacuracies’. And the worst thing in That Ad is the blatant lie that the design centre will ‘still be here’. It wont. Maybe just the one guy in front of one PC doing designing a new letterhead…
    He also said the Commodore name is dead too, as there will not be another car with that name again. He seems to be taking it pretty well at least on the outside, but after 15 years I know it cuts deep. Very deep.

  6. will be interesting to see the first quarter ’14 sales figures for holden following the annoying ad campaign, makes it really difficult to shift the unsold opel’s now sitting at holden dealerships without massive discounting on top of the already massive discounting…..

  7. New GM Management with new GM CEO is focused on profit. They don’t have an option at this point. One US Government bailout is all they get at least for the next few years. As a GM Family member legacy they certainly want my business. I don’t have any suggestions for Australia.

    Wife did not fully get Maptun stage 1 upgrade. The Swade Maptun video and endorsement was helpful in making the decision to finally make the upgrade. Thank you.

  8. “Were here” is the original idea, but someone in the GM marketing department did a bad proofreading……..